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Communication key to Bucs' early success

MLB.com @adamdberry

CHICAGO -- In a way, some Pirates coaches are like parents setting rules for their children. They'd like to see the younger generation spend a little less time staring at a screen and a little more time talking to each other. Manager Clint Hurdle, for instance, has seen a generation of hitters more likely to march out of the dugout to watch video of their at-bats than sit down and talk about them with their teammates.

"And it drives me a little nuts," Hurdle said.

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CHICAGO -- In a way, some Pirates coaches are like parents setting rules for their children. They'd like to see the younger generation spend a little less time staring at a screen and a little more time talking to each other. Manager Clint Hurdle, for instance, has seen a generation of hitters more likely to march out of the dugout to watch video of their at-bats than sit down and talk about them with their teammates.

"And it drives me a little nuts," Hurdle said.

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Not this year's Pirates. Several hitters have credited their in-game communication and adjustments, in addition to good health, for their hot offensive start. The Bucs entered Wednesday night's game against the Cubs having scored 66 runs, their highest output after 10 games since 1923.

"The adjustments during the game are unbelievable, the way players communicate with each other. It's not a selfish team," left fielder Corey Dickerson said. "Whenever somebody gets out, they're coming in talking instead of coming in throwing their helmet and getting upset. They're coming in talking and communicating and we're feeding off that."

What's the benefit? Those conversations bring people together, for one. As Hurdle said, "Very rarely do you see six guys around one screen." Shortstop Jordy Mercer said teammates' observations also lend insight that often can't be gleaned from pregame scouting reports.

"If a guy's going to a certain pitch that he really likes at that time, that he's got a good feel for, he's going to keep on throwing it. The scouting report doesn't say that," Mercer said. "In-game adjustments are huge, so when a guy comes in and sees that or multiple guys come in and say something like that, it gives you a better heads up for your next at-bat.

"We're trying to figure out ways to work together as a team. … Everybody's chipped in. Everybody's playing loose. We're all kind of figuring out this together. It's going to help us be more cohesive and help us win more games."

Video: CIN@PIT: Mercer pulls RBI double down left-field line

Former Pirates catcher Russell Martin encouraged that kind of dugout conversation in 2013-14, but Hurdle said the 2015 Bucs probably watched more video -- and that team won 98 games. It's not as if one approach is inherently better than the other. It's just a product of personnel and personalities.

"Different groups have different styles and different communication skills," Hurdle said. "This group seems to enjoy the buy-in of the communication, the talk, more than some of the other ones."

Injury updates
• Reliever A.J. Schugel (right shoulder) is set to begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Thursday with Class A Advanced Bradenton, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said. Schugel, who could bolster the Bucs' middle-relief group, was shut down after his Spring Training debut on Feb. 25.

• Outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds was placed on the disabled list with Double-A Altoona and evaluated by the Pirates' hand surgeon in Pittsburgh, Tomczyk said. Acquired from the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade, Reynolds is the Bucs' No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

• Right-hander Joe Musgrove (shoulder strain) has resumed throwing, but not off the mound. The Pirates hope to have a more firm timeline for his return by the end of the weekend. Rehabbing Rule 5 Draft pick Nick Burdi is throwing off the mound in Bradenton, Fla. Recently claimed right-hander Jesus Liranzo is on the Double-A disabled list with a left ankle sprain and rebuilding his arm strength to start the season.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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